This is one of those posts I don’t have words to write about. This is one of those posts that people who experience the ‘3 Ds’ in this title will understand because they feel in their body what I am going to describe — even though I doubt I have the words I need to do so.
Google searching the words “dissociation depersonalization derealization child abuse” will bring up a host of pages to look at that are probably more clearly written than this post will be! But a lack of words is not going to stop me from trying to describe what I have been feeling today.
I know where ‘these feelings’ come from for me. Being a victim of insane psychotic mad woman abuse by my mother from birth until I left home at 18 did ‘this’ to me. Everyone who experiences the ‘3 Ds’ has a story of extreme trauma and abuse to tell. None of ‘us’ were born this way. We were MADE this way directly through repeated severe trauma exposure most likely in our earliest developmental years of infancy and childhood.
My mother’s abuse continually interrupted my own early experience of myself in my own life. Today I would describe this as being continually ripped out of my own reality by brutal verbal and physical attacks. My mother’s own MOVIE continually interrupted my experience.
Because these attacks against me began before I had words, before I even knew how to identify sounds with their sources, before I had a chance to even know what a person was — let alone who I was — the ‘3 Ds’ were built into my growing and developing body, nervous system, stress response system and brain.
Today the word MOVIE is very much in the center of the focus of my thoughts. I — as a person in a body — experienced my life today as if my body and I are separate, as if my body is a vehicle I am ‘driving around in’.
There is a great sense of remoteness to the experience of the ‘3 Ds’. Not only is this sense of distance, numbness and remoteness involved in my sense of being in a body, it is also involved in my sense of others in my world. Each person I saw today, each snippet of conversation I heard, all seemed to be in MOVIES — other people’s movies that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with me.
This is not a social connectedness feeling. True, the people I encountered today were mostly ‘strangers’, but they do share the social species I belong to. There is, I suspect, a common assumption among people that we share certain common experiences — and being in a body in the middle of one’s own experience as it is happening is probably one of them.
These multiple MOVIES overlap one another. The sounds of people talking — and often the sounds around me in the environment — often have no meaning to me, either. My guess is that I could explain this experience in part by saying that when a person hears a sound suddenly in the environment that they do not immediately recognize, often a degree of attention is devoted to the sound until the source and nature of the sound are identified.
I watched a woman today interact with her cell phone that suddenly changed its own ringtone. When her phone rang with its strange tone the first time she didn’t realize it was her phone. Eventually this woman took the phone in hand to explore exactly which settings had mysteriously changed themselves so that her familiar ringtone had disappeared and been replaced with a tone completely foreign to its owner.
It is not uncommon for me to have devote energy like this to ‘connecting’ sounds with their sources in my environment (including the sounds of voices to the words that are being spoken). It would be simple, perhaps, to say that these experiences when I have them are ‘just’ part of my posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
I don’t have an option of jumping into a non-trauma formed body. I have to live in this body that has experienced so much severe trauma that it will NEVER react to the environment I am in with normal responses.
I know that my experience over 4 years ago with heavy chemotherapy for advanced, aggressive breast cancer reawakened my childhood body’s response patterns to much of my life. Most fortunately as I grew older within my severely abusive home of origin I LEARNED ways to get along in the world that kept the ‘3 Ds’ from overly interfering with my ability to get along in a ‘normal’ world.
Unfortunately there was something about how the chemotherapy drugs affected by body-brain that seemed to have erased most of what I LEARNED about these ways to get along. It is very unsettling, and at times so discouraging and disheartening – and scary – to be in my body TODAY as I now understand this is how I felt ALL of the time in my earliest years of life (probably before age 11).
Between age 11 and age 18 I found/learned/invented/developed ‘detours’ around the major impact of the ‘3 Ds’. I was very fortunate. Most of those detours seem to be gone. I am left today feeling very strange in a world that exists as overlapping remote movies – my own included – that do not feel as if they have a single thing to do with me.
I can get along being a stranger in my own body in my own life and in the world around me, but I feel fragile and vulnerable as if the slightest SURPRISE could literally startle/scare me out of my own skin (my “body suit” as in the movie “Men in Black”). All the TERROR I felt from the horrors of 18 years of traumatic abuse has gone NOWHERE. It is ALL remembered in my body. I again lack adequate filters to screen out what my body knows about being in the world — without me really being in it.